From a Twitter thread the other day on odd books no one has ever heard of, I made a list and read through a few young adult and children’s books. One of them, Redwork, was described as the quintessential situation where a young person has a weird bond with an old neighbor who is witchy & mysterious. I read through it – the 14 year old protagonist becomes fascinated with his downstairs neighbor who was a WWI vet and has become both a hoarder and a backyard alchemist – And there is some light psychic phenomena –
But the odd thing about this book is it had the vibe of a book that would have been out of date even in the 70s. I mean, maybe? Did movie theaters have double features, and (teenage) ushers that actually ushed, showing you to your seat with a flashlight, and supervised, and would kick you out for talking or throwing popcorn or smoking in the non-smoking section of the theater (!?!) I don’t think so but correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe it was by an author who grew up in like, 1940, trying to make his story seem current by having the kid’s mom be a single mother trying to get her Ph.D. (or something, though that part was as unreal as the alchemy) And nothing ELSE about the book situated it in time, really. Paying for a gallon of milk with pennies would have been more than difficult in 1990. Maybe we can date it from the wages – 4 hours times 3 nights a week brought take home pay of 40 dollars (no taxes mentioned and it seemed to be pay in cash)
Anyway, the worst bit was that the mean bullying head usher sexually harasses and assaults the young women and girls who work at the popcorn counter and everyone who works there knows it and a sexual assault on a young teenager was clearly described (in the mop closet, horrors) And the characters describe it as the bully “making a pass at her”. It didn’t feel like the author making any sort of point but more like that is the language HE was using about the incident.
What the ever living fuck and how was this book published like this in 1990?
People are so gross sometimes. It was also a totally mediocre book of the genre of “kid meets witchy old neighbor”. One star.